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Quick turnaround: 22 hours until Game 5

Friday, 05.08.2009 / 10:00 PM / Conference Semifinals: Washington vs. Pittsburgh

By Bob Condor - Editor-in-Chief

When the Penguins gathered around goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for some congratulatory pats on the helmet and stick-pad whacking as Pittsburgh evened the series at two games apiece, the time was 9:27 p.m. ET. That translated to 21 hours and 33 minutes away from the puck drop for the all-pivotal Game 5 down the Eastern seaboard in Washington.

9:29 p.m. ET, Friday

Before departing The Igloo, players from both sides needed to face the media. No surprise that Pens superstar Sidney Crosby barely got off the ice before doing his first post-Game 4 interview with the CBC. As the players talked to reporters in dressing rooms and coaches went to the podium for press conferences, the equipment managers for both Pittsburgh and Washington were busy stacking and packing gloves, collecting sticks and sharpening skates. Most NHL players like their skates sharpened before every game.

Crosby talked about the back-to-back Friday and Saturday games earlier in the week.

"I think back to back, in any way, shape or form is a challenge to both teams, no matter who loses (Game 4)," said Crosby. "I really think it’s a challenge you face in the playoffs, going back to back like that. The winners always have the momentum, but it’s a challenge in any case.

I think the obvious (challenge) is fatigue. You play back-to-back games, it's wearing. During the season it’s a bit of a factor sometimes. In the playoffs it's intense, emotional games and you have to turn the page quickly. Every game is big."

Crosby talked about whether his preparation is any different when one game follows the other in less than 24 hours: "I don't think you change anything. You make sure you drink a lot of water, you get a lot of fluids into you.

Sid the Kid said weight loss can be an issue for him.

You lose a lot of weight in these games with how hot it is sometimes, and just the wear and tear of the games," he explained. "Some guys are different, they don't lose as much so they don't have to worry about that. But for me, I usually lose a little more weight, so I try to get my weight back up and stuff like that."

10:05 p.m. ET, Friday

Barely more than a half-hour after Game 4's end, the Capitals were on their team bus headed for the airport. You are thinking this bus was quieter than usual. 

11:15 p.m. ET, Friday

The Caps begin eating their team meal as the plane sits on the runway still being loaded with equipment. 

11:30 p.m. ET, Friday

The Penguins plane lane takes off from Pittsburgh and heads to Washington. The players appear relaxed and confident following the big 5-3 victory in Game 4 that even the series at 2-2.

11:59 p.m. ET, Friday

The Capitals land at Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. Players will get a chance to rest in their own beds tonight.

12:08 a.m. ET, Saturday

The Penguins flight touches down in the natinon’s capital. The players, coaches and staff gather their luggage and board a bus for the long ride to the team hotel.

1:05 a.m. ET, Saturday

The bus arrives at the hotel. The team checks in and heads to their room for some much deserved sleep.

9:55 a.m. ET, Saturday

Three Caps skaters, two goalies and two assistant coaches take the ice for the team’s optional morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, none of whom played last night.

10:00 a.m. ET, Saturday

The coaching staff goes over some things about tonight’s game in the morning team meeting. With game’s on consecutive nights, the Penguins did not hold a morning skate.

11:00 a.m. ET, Saturday

Caps have a power play meeting.

11:10 a.m. ET, Saturday

Capitals hold an all-team meeting.

When meeting the media at mid-day Saturday, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau talked about one game starting less than 24 hours after the previous one ended: "You can't use (back-to-backs) as an excuse. I look at the American (Hockey) League, they played Wednesday and they're playing Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. Most of these guys have all been in the American League on the buses and they've played just as hard. We can't use that as an excuse. Back-to-back in today's NHL, it's a 30-minute flight. We were in bed at midnight last night. It's not like they're old men like me. They're young, in their prime athletes and they should be fine. I don't think there should be anything wrong."

"Probably like Pittsburgh we have a lot of bumps and bruises and we'll have an extra guy or two out there for warmup and take it from there."

Caps center Brooks Laich added his thoughts: "We talked before last night that it was a six period game and every hit we put on the D-men would pay dividends tonight. They're playing really well right now. I think last night the series elevated in intensity and tonight should be no different."

11:30 a.m. ET, Saturday

Most of the Caps players grab lunch in one of the party rooms at Kettler Capitals Iceplex

12 noon ET, Saturday

The Penguins hold a short media session at the team hotel with Head Coach Dan Bylsma, Bill Guerin, Max Talbot, Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik.

12:30 p.m. ET, Friday

The Piitsburgh team eats lunch and welcomes back defenseman Alex Goligoski (who was recalled the previous evening from the AHL).

4 p.m. ET, Saturday

The Penguins players have some down time until they board the bus the Verizon Center. In a few hours the puck will drop for Game 5.

6:29 p.m. ET, Saturday

Simeon Varlamov  leads Caps onto the ice for warmups

6:30 p.m. ET, Saturday

Marc-Andre Fleury leads Penguins onto the ice at 6:30 p.m. ET to a chorus of boos.

7:09 p.m. ET, Saturday

The puck drops at 7:09, Game 5 is on. 

Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website